Had a definite case of the head melters today. Music and conversation has been pretty much intolerable, I feel acutely sensitive to everything and binge ate earlier (pastrami bagel and three Princesa bars – really need to avoid the Polish aisle in Tesco) to try and quell my anxiety. A bit of light exercise helped, though I’m exhausted and didn’t want to push it in case it over stimulated me or made me cry.
Managed to get through it with quiet solitude and books. I’ve finished Anne Frank’s diary and have moved on to Eva Luna, a book I read when I was just about to turn 17. I was on my way to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe. I spent the first night sleeping in a tent in the garden of a nice Christian lady who had opened her home to about 10 of us thespians. I caught a horrendous cold and so was moved to my own private room. It was very small, Just a a top bunk over an old desktop PC, but it had a tremendous vent through which I could observe the kitchen. I took great delight in my little crows nest, a sense of isolation permeated the entire trip due to my lowly status within our so-called theatre company (4 drama wannabes and a piano player), and I very much enjoyed watching the comings and goings over breakfast. We ate Burmese Cheese Rice (a recipe from my mother’s old Austerity Cookbook) at least twice that week and I was introduced to the joys of vodka and apple juice. I can still taste the acrid tang of that cheap Prince’s juice with the added vitamin C. I also invented ‘Russian Gold’, a cocktail consisting of vodka, milk and honey.
I remember having a good time but I also remember the day I was left in the flat on my own. I was still very ill with a cold so while the rest of the gang went flyering for our show, I stayed wrapped up on the sofa. I was also very depressed at the time, though I don’t think I told anyone, and I recall writing something which turned into a morbid spewing of self-hatred and bile – something which used to happen whenever I tried to write in my diary. It was uncontrollable, like an unseen force would take the pen and make me carve my rage into the paper as I sobbed. I still have those diaries at home.
The show itself was quite good, if bizarre. It was about a vicar whose mother wanted him to marry an appropriate, cake obsessed C of E spinster (me) when really he was in love with a working class (I.E. The actress put on a Scouse accent) pregnant girl. This dilemma was resolved only with the help of the idiot who lived in his bathtub and transported him to an Alice in Wonderland style alternative reality where we were two rabbits and he was the Mad Hatter. In the end the pregnant girl died giving birth and we adopted the baby (obviously), the whole thing supposedly representing the role of the church in modern Britain but really being about the tawdry and repressed sexual desires of Christian drama geeks. The next year we did a show about a man who couldn’t pass through to the afterlife (‘drink his milk and go to sleep’) without help from two balaclava’d entities in pyjamas, one of which would torture him (me) and the other one who tried to persuade/seduce him (P, who was very camp indeed but married the idiot in the bathtub), the grand twist being that he was a milkman who I think fathered an illegitimate child. We got decent audiences for both (the latter we performed in a real theatre and at our schools/colleges, including the scene where I wore nothing but my underwear and a balaclava) and I think we had a good time, though I always got the sense I wasn’t supposed to say anything because I was the ‘chavvy’ one. Posh kids are fucking weird though.
I celebrated my 17th birthday there, they took me for a meal which I was still too depressed and gauche to accept graciously and without tears. I lost my wallet at a fairly decent production ofFaustus and everyone subbed me, so much so that I got horrendously drunk in a hotel bar and sobbed that I could only ever attract ugly men. This was after I had taken up with one of the (significantly older) semi-chaperones of the grown up theatre company who had endorsed us and took us up for the ride, of course. He gave me a copy of Sophie’s World which I found interminably pretentious but we did enjoy a nice afternoon kissing in the park, despite his wankiness and blonde ponytail.
The day of my birthday itself we were on our way back home. We stopped at Lindesfarne in Northumbria on the way and went to see Holy Island. It was cold, it being the end of August in Britain, but we all went in the sea to paddle. Of course someone started singing a hymn but I remember it all being very beautiful. We all got silly and far too wet but it was good, clean fun. As we got within about 30 minutes of home, the bus (an old postal van which was shakily approaching death’s door) gave out and we had to get picked up by various grown ups. I think I lent someone Eva Luna and then went home, satisfied but deflated in post-show malaise, to open my birthday presents.